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reviews

Chandos CD  [view CD details]
Every once in a while, something comes along that is so striking that the usual list of influences, metaphors, and descriptors becomes superfluous. Such is the case with Steven Gerber's First Symphony (1988-89). The three-movement work held me mesmerized and fascinated for its entire 25-minute length.
—American Record Guide
Each work is an important addition to music in the late 20th century, its sense of evolution from previous generations welcome at a time when change seems to have become a virtue in itself.
—Fanfare
Steven R. Gerber has one of the most direct and readily accessible voices in contemporary American music. The works on this disc...have distinctive and powerful melodic contouring. Gerber's urgent, highly charged language arouses graphic emotions, even at first hearing.
—Rough Guides/online
Gerber has a strong melodic gift...he's a composer with a strong and communicative voice of his own.
—International Record Guide
This is music of our time that I most strongly urge you to hear.
—The Strad

KOCH Orchestral CD  [view CD details]
Steven Gerber is another outstanding composer of the new American school...The beautiful Violin Concerto is a superb example. In the first movement he uses hauntingly memorable material from his college years and writes unashamedly tonally and in sonata form...The Cello Concerto opens equally atmospherically and the soloist ruminates evocatively. The scoring is economical and very telling....These are splendid works and both soloists are fully worthy of them, and completely inside this consistently memorable music. The String Serenade...is hardly less memorable and individual...
—The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs - 2002 Edition

Violin Concerto [available on CD]
Steven R. Gerber's Violin Concerto, which had its American premiere last night in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, is a major addition to the contemporary violin repertoire: lyrical, passionate, dramatic, beautifully tailored to the instrument's character and capabilities. It was the highlight of a program that was always fascinating and often exhilarating: the 10th anniversary celebration of the National Chamber Orchestra...Amid so many competing attractions, the Gerber Violin Concerto still stood out as few contemporary works do in programs shared with older music. Gerber... has revived the spirit of romanticism in this work, with a strong sense of tonal melody and of the dramatic effects and surprises still possible in traditional forms...one of the year's most memorable events.
—Washington Post

Clarinet Concerto
The world premiere of Steven Gerber's new Clarinet Concerto... [was] an important musical event. Written for Jon Manasse, ...the evening's soloist, the concerto is the work of a composer whose idiom is a coherent and logical amalgam of centuries of musical thought.

Its opening thematic material, angular but immediately memorable, serves as a structural element when it reappears in each of the two movements. The character of the solo line and its textural orchestral support evolve easily from sharply defined and disconnected points of sound to passages of easy lyricism, and all of this develops naturally and without any sense of gimmick or premeditation.

Most compelling, however, is Gerber's orchestration. Within the context of a spare pizzicato texture, he has the harp, in its lowest and most sonorous range, functioning as almost a second solo instrument... the development of the second movement's fugue theme in the low woodwinds is delightful.
—Washington Post

String Quartet No. 4
Gerber used lyrical, tonal writing as comfortably as unabated dissonance in creating stirring music with this quartet. Constructed of four short, highly inventive movements, the piece was well-received by the near-capacity crowd at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Fine Arts Recital Hall. The quartet opens with a 'Moderato' movement of diatonic melodies that washes by on a wave of unabated tension. The second movement, marked 'Lento,' creates a gnawing dissonance through shifting chromatics at close intervals. The dramatic center of the piece is found in the third movement, marked 'Maestoso, con moto.' A single theme is repeated continually throughout the movement in bold gestures that make it impossible to turn away. The finale movement takes ideas from the earlier movements and weaves them into a satisfying coda.
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Cello Concerto [available on CD]
It is risky to predict the future of any new piece of music at a time when the audience is believed to be shrinking even for established classics. But Gerber's concerto seems to have what it takes to establish a foothold.... The music is composed with a fine sense of instrumental color, not only in the solo cello but also in the orchestration, which is vivid without losing the transparency essential in music for a chamber orchestra.... Gerber has given his soloist some fine, expressive melodies...the audience applauded him warmly and at length.
—Washington Post

String Quartet No. 1
Much the best of the new pieces was Steven R. Gerber's String Quartet (1973)...Sparely textured, it has a clean, constantly arresting sound, and its motivic material is very strongly built up.
—The New York Times

Piano Trio
Gerber...is...clearly a composer of considerable talent. One knows right at the outset of the trio that the piece is in some way a necessity.
—The Washington Star

String Trio
...a work of considerable distinction.... The music was launched into instant intensity, which was sustained in a deft handling of sonorities and voices.
—The Washington Star

Symphony No. 1 [available on CD]
Steven Gerber's Symphony #1 is a beautiful work. The composer uses simple means and achieves large, lasting philosophical ideas. The human tragedy sings in his music.
—Vladimir Vais (former conductor of the Bolshoi Opera)
Gerber could serve as an example of American musical professionalism: with freedom and confidence, he possesses the entire spectrum of the means of expression of modern composition and all of the different genres, and he stands out with the highest of temperaments and musical taste.
—Vyechernaya Moskva (Evening Moscow)




Steven R. Gerber